NBA Notes: Nets, Celts reportedly pull off blockbuster

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NBA Notes: Nets, Celts reportedly pull off blockbuster

According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets and Celtics have agreed to a blockbuster deal that sends Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn.

Jason Terry will also head from the Celtics to the Nets in the trade.

Wojnarowski reports that the package moving from Brooklyn to Boston contains Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, Reggie Evans and three first-round picks (2014, 2016 and 2018). The Nets will also do a sign-and-trade involving guard Keith Bogans.

Garnett waived his no-trade clause to get the deal completed.

The trade can not become official until July 10, when the league's salary cap is set for next season.

Looking to start from scratch, the Celtics will benefit from obtaining three future first-round picks. The Nets, under the ownership of Mikhail Prokhorov, have looked to make flashy moves, and acquiring Garnett, Pierce and Terry certainly falls under that banner. 

Lakers: Howard unlikely to return to L.A.
Despite the Lakers' pleas to keep Dwight Howard with giant signs outside Staples Center, it appears as if the enigmatic center may not be keen on returning.

Howard, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, is leaning towards bolting from Los Angeles, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard.

Broussard reported Thursday that the Lakers have little chance of re-signing Howard, primarily due to his frustration with Mike D'Antoni's system.  Broussard also reports that Houston and Dallas remain the favorites for Howard's services next season.

Howard played 76 games this season for the Lakers, averaging 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds in 35.8 minutes per game. The Lakers acquired the seven-time All-Star in a four-team deal last offseason involving the Denver Nuggets, Sixers, and Orlando Magic. 

Despite the hype that surrounded Howard's arrival in L.A., the Lakers went 45-37 and were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs.

Blazers: Aldridge reportedly wants out
According to Jason Quick of the Oregonian (via ProBasketball Talk), LaMarcus Aldridge wants out of Portland because it's too small and too boring.

While Quick says he believes Portland GM Neil Olshey doesn't want to move the power forward, there remains a belief that Olshey is in a precarious situation with the potential of Aldridge walking in the summer of 2015.

Aldridge averaged 21.1 points and 9.1 rebounds last season in 37.7 minutes per game. But despite his success, Portland still missed the playoffs falling 12 games back of the eighth-seeded Houston Rockets.

Instant Replay: Hawks 110, Sixers 93

Instant Replay: Hawks 110, Sixers 93

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA - Without Joel Embiid, the red-hot Sixers couldn't contain the equally hot Hawks in a 110-93 loss in Atlanta Saturday.

Ersan Ilyasova cranked it up again with 21 points, but the Sixers looked like they ran out of gas in the second quarter, when they gave up 37 points to the Hawks and never caught up to take just their third loss in 11 games. 

Atlanta’s beaten them six straight times, and the Hawks did it this time without their usual long ball proficiency. They won for the ninth time in 11 games making a modest 7 of 20 three-pointers. 

Conversely, the Sixers jacked up 29 threes, converting 12 (41.4 percent) as they saw a three-game winning streak snapped.

Robert Covington added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Millsap paced the Hawks with 22 points and 10 rebounds while center Dwight Howard scored 13 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

Inside the box score
The Sixers matched Atlanta early, as the teams were tied at 25 after one, but their defense loosened in the second quarter and they never could catch up as Atlanta made a whopping 16 of 23 shots in the period.

Twenty-one turnovers doomed the Sixers, who also failed to help themselves on the boards. Atlanta had a 48-38 rebounding advantage.
   
Not enough juice
After trailing by as many as 18 points late in the third period, the Sixers made a run at Atlanta and pulled to within 94-87 on a pair of free throws by Covington with 6:46 left in the game. From there, however, the Hawks rolled.

In a groove
Ilyasova picked up where he left off Friday, when he scored a season-high 24 points in a 93-92 win over Portland. He led all scorers with 12 points in the first half and made 3 of 6 from three overall to stretch his league-leading streak of making at least one long ball to 39 games. Ilyasova made five treys Friday night.

Embiid’s sore knee
Saturday was a rest day for center Joel Embiid, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to play Tuesday against the Clippers. He suffered a contusion to his knee in Friday’s win over Portland.

“Joel will go through more assessments with our medical staff,” Brown said before the game. “I don’t have any more . . . to share. We’ll learn more when we get back to Philly.”

Up next
The Sixers return home to play the Clippers (29-15) Tuesday evening and will follow that with a back-to-back Wednesday in Milwaukee (20-23).

Tim Quarterman: Ben Simmons at PG will 'work out well' for Sixers

Tim Quarterman: Ben Simmons at PG will 'work out well' for Sixers

There are only a handful of people who have played basketball extensively with Ben Simmons, given he has been sidelined thus far into his rookie season with a foot injury. Those who spent Simmons’ freshman year at LSU with him have firsthand insight into the NBA player he has the potential to become.

“He's definitely a team player,” Blazers rookie guard Tim Quarterman, who played with Simmons at LSU, said Friday. “He's a pass-first person. He wants to see his teammates do well. I think when he comes back to play, that's what he'll bring to Philly. He's not one of those people who just tries to go out there to get a 100 points. He's a good teammate.”

Quarterman left school after his junior year and earned a spot on the Trail Blazers' roster. He and Simmons have different stories: Simmons was the first overall pick; Quarterman went undrafted. Simmons has has been out since training camp; Quarterman, while playing sparingly, has experienced live NBA action. Still, the two have shared in the journey of life in the league. 

“It's a cool process going through our rookie season together,” Quarterman said before the Trail Blazers faced the Sixers Friday. “Even though he's not playing right now, he's working to get on the court. I'm sure he'll do great when he gets back out there. I got a chance to talk to him last night. Everything's been good so far.”

The Sixers got a small glimpse of Simmons during training camp before he suffered a Jones fracture on the final day. He recently began participating in 5-on-0 drills. Simmons also has been putting up shots after practice and doing light courtwork during pregame warmups. 

Brett Brown has said he intends to start the 6-foot-10 Simmons at the one spot when he returns. As part of his multi-faceted rehab, Brown has been giving Simmons written tests in which he has to navigate various in-game situations as the point guard. Simmons played point-forward at LSU, where he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists. 

“He'll be able to space the floor,” Quarterman said of Simmons at the point. “He can see over the defense and make passes that some little guards can't. He can defend. He can move his feet well. I think it'll work out well.”

It remains to be seen when the former teammates will both be suited up in the same NBA game. There is no timetable set for Simmons’ return. The Sixers face the Trail Blazers for their second and final meeting of the regular season on March 9 in Portland. 

“It's cool for both of us to be making the best of our opportunity,” Quarterman said.